Holy Spirit students give back

For the past 50 years, Holy Spirit School in Annandale not only has provided its students a program of academic excellence steeped in the traditions of the church but also has cultivated in them a spirit of giving back to the community. Starting with the first day of school each year, students at Holy Spirit participate in numerous service projects. Whether it is going to weekly Mass with their "Mass buddies" or creating pinwheels in honor of World Peace Day, students demonstrate that God is calling them to be His disciples.

In October, the school conducted its annual "Ton of Love" food drive for Christ House in Alexandria, collecting more than 2,500 food donations. In addition, students participated in their first annual "Turkey Shoot," raising more than $350 to purchase grocery store gift cards to benefit Catholic Charities.

Recently, Holy Spirit School joined with the Annandale Christian Community for Action so middle school students could volunteer in the child development center. Twice a month Holy Spirit students spend time in the preschool classrooms. They help with crafts, play one-on-one, socialize, mentor and bond with the children. Maureen Ashby, Holy Spirit principal, said she hopes this type of volunteering will continue.

In another schoolwide effort, students collected gently used coats for needy children. Meg Gillespie, school counselor, initially brought this idea of donating coats from her experience working with children in need at public schools. "For many, it was their first winter coat," she said. "They were so happy trying them on and hanging them in their cubbies."

Students continued their outreach to children in need through their annual Toys for Tots drive in conjunction with the Quantico division of the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation. Almost 700 toys were collected for local children.

By living the mission of Jesus, students at Holy Spirit school continue to show that there is a place in this world for faith, hope, love and good will.

Evans is Assistant Principal of Holy Spirit School in Annandale.

ACCA volunteering

COURTESY PHOTO

Peter Epperly of Holy Spirit School in Annandale reads to preschoolers at the Annandale Christian Community for Action.

Pinwheels for Peace

COURTESY PHOTO

Jasmine Aleman (left) and Anne Stier plant their "pinwheels for peace" in the ground at Holy Spirit School in Annandale in honor of World Peace Day.

Toys for Tots

COURTESY PHOTO

Patrick Becker of Holy Spirit School in Annandale is all smiles as he donates a toy to the Marines' annual Toys for Tots collection.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015